Three: Highly unusual 1908 illustrated tin chart by Fowler and Wells Co., New York, along with a framed digital image of a 1920/1930 urban sidewalk phrenology stand and a Encyclopedie Bouasse Lebel lithograph depicting the pseudosciences of phrenology, physiognomy and chiromancy (framed),19th c.
Tin chart: 19" x 14"
Now considered quack medicine, phrenology - the study of personality traits by examining the shape of, and bumps on, the head - was once thought of as a legitimate science and tool for understanding human behavior and abilities. Franz Josef Gall (1758 – 1828), a neuroanatomist, physiologist and pioneer in the study of the localization of mental functions in the brain, is considered the theory’s founder and was certainly its great proponent. Phrenology was notably used to advance racist assumptions about the inferiority of people not of European descent. Phrenologists were prolific and popular throughout the 19th century, found in storefronts and offices, and it is interesting to note that the Hallmark Corporation, a bastion of the mainstream today, retained a phrenologist on staff to examine its employees until 1932.